Tonight… I’m gonna have myself… a real good time…
A movie that’s been in the making, not just since 2010, but since 1946, if we’re gonna be totally honest. It’s no secret that Freddie Mercury is a total icon, a god of popular culture, and some kind of even greater deity for music-lovers and singers, especially. A four-octave vocal range is impressive enough, but the power in which he infused every single note was extraordinary. His stage presence was that of a firework made of rocket fuel and shenangians, yet he was always in total control. A movie about such a man was always gonna be difficult to make.
However, with now-disgraced, ex-Benedict-Cumberbatch lookalike Bryan Singer at the director’s helm, Bohemian Rhapsody, more than a fitting title for such a life of lavish excess, hits our screens to massive anticipation, not least due to Rami Malek’s visually impressive transformation into the legend, which astounded trailer-viewers the world over. But will the film be one for the Champions? Or will it bite the dust? (Ughhh I’m loving myself today — top form)
Bohemian Rhapsody covers the 15-year period between Queen’s formation and their historic performance at Live Aid. Dabbling in biopic cliché, it’s certainly not an arthouse, subversive look at Mercury’s rise to power, but it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser. I had read somewhere that the producers somehow had the gall to remove a hefty chunk of the character’s queerness from the movie — but that simply isn’t true. While I suspect we did have a good bit of artistic license going on with some of the characterisations, with certain characters being villainised more than they might’ve been (i dunno really), it did seem like a reasonably accurate depiction of his life and times — well the bits they could show in 12A movie, at least.
Of course, with *that* teaser trailer ensuring asses in seats at every cinema in the country, all eyes were on a certain Rami Malek. I was personally very surprised to see the soft-spoken weirdo from Mr Robot filling the trainers of the biggest personality in rock history, but I gotta say, I was impressed. Seeing that trailer gave me an ounce of worry that Malek was carrying the movie on that performance and, while it was a perfectly fine film on its own, it would’ve suffered *heavily* without him. The commanding prescence, the nonchalant confidence, the decadent charisma — those fucking teeth –, it was all there; it was all Freddie.
The supporting cast were solid, and almost time-travelling doppelgangers of their real-life counterparts (we stan Gwilym Lee and his poodle hair), big up to Susie Figgis on the casting here — but what else would you expect from the woman who brought Daniel Radcliffe to Harry Potter. Of course, with such a big character taking up so much screentime, it was always gonna be tricky to stand out, but I did appreciate Mike Myers and his Wayne’s World reference — good call.
Overall, Bohemian Rhapsody, with all the hype and controversy surrounding it, is your standard biopic fare, really. A standard pacing of a rise to fame is bolstered by a massive character, and a massive performance from Rami Malek, as well as a killer Queen soundtrack and superb casting. If you’re looking for a life-affirming experience, you need no less read about Freddie Mercury, but this movie is an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours and little more.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations